SRINAGAR: The answer given four years ago in the legislative assembly was given again on Tuesday when the government told the house that it would de-notify 50 hectares of forest land in Kupwara for mining marble.
MLA Langate Abdul Rashid asked the government on Tuesdaywhat was being done about the plan to extract marble and give land on lease for marble mining in Kupwara. The answer given by minister of industries Chander Prakash Ganga was the same as that given in March 2012 by the then minister of industries SS Slathia: that 50 hectares of forest land in Kupwara would be de-notified for the purposes of marble mining.
Slathia, who was a minister in the Omar Abdullah-led government, had told the assembly that de-notification would make available 49.5 hectares of forest land for marble mining. He had said that after the de-notification, competitive bidding for the mining lease would be invited.
In 2008, the then chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had announced that local marble and granite would be used in prestigious buildings of the state. Nabi’s announcement was hailed at the time as having the potential to attract thousands of crores of investment in the mining industry.
Marble deposits were identified by the Geology and Mining department in Gazrial range of mountains in Kupwara in the 1980s. Local business houses were invited to set up cutting and polishing units in Kupwara and offered lease of some areas that were later shut down in 1990. Many of these areas remained occupied by troops until they were vacated in 2003.